Tuesday, February 2, 2010

My Goddamn Blog Post, for Chrissake

I just found out that JD Salinger, author of Catcher in the Rye, Franny and Zooey, Nine Stories, and Raise High the Roofbeam, Carpenters, and Seymour: An Introduction passed away on January 27th at the age of 91. I can say with absolute certainty that he was my favorite author of all time, Catcher in the Rye being my favorite book, and I geuss the strongest emotion I have about the whole thing is regret that now I'll never get to tell him what an effect his writing has and continues to have on me. That sounds silly because he was an extremely famous author, and hundreds of thousands of people read him every year, so why would my personal opinion matter to him? It probably wouldn't, especially considering how much he loathed attention and ego, but that's still how I feel. So I geuss I'll do the next best thing and let other people know how important Salinger's books are to me, and maybe it will inspire whoever reads this to give them a try.

I first read Catcher in the Rye in the sixth grade, after randomly finding it on my parents' bookshelf (it was my father's copy). By all reasonable standards, I was too young to read a book that involved prositutes, heavy drinking, serious depression, and a shitload of swearing, and I really only understood about half of it, but I loved it because it was so violently different than what I was used to reading (Beverly Cleary and the Harry Potter series). Holden Caulfield was highly cyncial and saw right through social norms, and I immediately connected to this realism that I definetely wasn't getting from my friends at Catholic elementary school. I had always felt a little different from everyone else I knew, a little isolated, as I'm sure a lot of kids do, and this book became my savior, because it showed me for the first time that others experience this. I now reread Catcher at least once a year, and every time I get more out of it.

Salinger's other books all touched on other favorite topics of mine: the problem of being spiritual or artistic without ego getting in the way, society's preoccupation with appearances, relationships among siblings, etc. They're all great, but if I had to reccomend any one of them after Catcher in the Rye, it would be Franny and Zooey, which I ironically just reread last week, before I knew that the author had died.

For lack of a more creative way to end this post, I'll give one of my favorite Salinger quotes: ""An artist's only concern is to shoot for some kind of perfection, and on his own terms, not anyone else's."

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